"What are some of the know-how's if you're looking to create a professional website from scratch for your small business? Are online tutorials the way to go when it comes to learning how to invest money into hosting sites, creating your domain, etc.?" -Tahira (@teecaake)
Taylor: If you are a techy, and love customizable design features, Wordpress is the way to go. If you like clean, simple and straightforward sites, Squarespace is my favorite. And if you are looking for more of a visual site, purchasing a url on tumblr is super cool and it's a great way to get your photos reposted and shared.
I personally started my site up on Wordpress but was having trouble always having to update it and the hosting company I was working with was a pain. Wordpress takes loads of time setting up, you have to work with a bunch of different sites to just get your one site up and running, but once you figure it out, it looks awesome. With Wordpress too, there are sites that sell premade themes that you can purchase and then make it your own. (If you're interested in the blogger scene, I recommend Blogzilla - they helped develop LFC - or BluChic, one of the first companies I used to help build my original site).
Squarespace, on the other hand, deals with all the tricky nonsense behind the scenes. It's an annual payment for the site, and then you can easily set up e-commerce and an email platform through Gmail for you and any other employees you may have, so you look super professional with a custom email. I personally use my platform as a blog, e-comm site and portfolio to showcase my artwork, so it's been awesome to find a site that can help me display all three things cohesively. If you have an iPhone, Squarespace has numerous apps you can download where you can update inventory on your e-comm site, or post a new blog post, or respond to comments and questions on your site. While there isn't any coding needed to create your site, there are still plenty of options to play around with, to make it your own. I set my entire site up on Squarespace in minutes, whereas the Wordpress page took me weeks to properly get up and running.
As far as learning how to set up a site, YouTube, Google, & Lynda were my go-tos; Lynda is a paid membership site, but has tutorials on almost everything you could think of. Also, there are loads of workshops that you can either attend, or participate in online that will make launching your site so much easier. Companies like Design Love Fest or Go Live have some awesome workshops.
Gemma: I host my website on Tumblr - partly because I already had one and partly because it suited me best at the time. I've thought before about switching to a site like Wordpress, more traditionally set up for individual text posts, especially as I'm a writer, but I like the mood boarding feel that you get with Tumblr and it means that I can simply use my phone to post up pictures from socials, reblog pictures and post songs in between my work. I think it reflects me more personally than a text-based site would.
Note: before starting a Wordpress account and site, make sure you check whether you need a Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org type account. Speaking from experience, this could save you some time; they're very different animals, apparently! It's a little confusing - you can find a broken down explanation of the difference here.
In terms of personalising your domain (i.e. getting gemmastyles.com instead of iamnamelessgem.tumblr.com) there is a huge selection of "domain hosting" sites to choose from - I'd recommend reading some customer reviews first to choose one, but in my experience working on various websites, they're much of a muchness really. When you "buy" a domain name, it's more like renting it from the internet, so you pay a yearly fee; as well as the domain, most of these hosting sites include server space as well as the ability to create custom email accounts. There's plenty of information on the hosting site FAQ pages, as well as online in general, that can help you set up your website - for sites like Wordpress.org, you have to essentially upload your website onto your server. It's certainly doable, but a bit more complicated; if, like me, you prefer an easier option, it only takes a few minutes to change the settings and point your new domain at your Tumblr blog. It's all built into the Tumblr settings.
Last piece of advice: if you do purchase a domain name then make sure you know when it's up for renewal, and mark it in your calendar. They should send an email to remind you, but if you miss it and your domain expires, then you can end up paying a lot of money when they try to ransom it back to you - they have all the power! I know people who've been stung by this before and it's a nightmare; if there's an auto-renew option on your account then I'd recommend that you use it...